One of the most essential skills we are building in a mindfulness practice is the power of concentration. In our modern, busy world, we are constantly distracted and our attention is continually being drawn in many different directions. We live in a state of continuous partial attention. This is exhausting and stressful. And, when we need to focus our attention, we often have trouble “turning off” all those distracting thoughts and reigning in our attention. Mindfulness practice, in which we are learning to intentionally bring our attention to the present moment and hold it there, builds our power of concentration and offers many benefits to our health and wellbeing.
Strong leadership is an act of balance. To ensure projects are successful, a team relies on guidance that is both emotionally and logically sound. When the going gets tough, it can be easy to lean to one side. A logic-driven leader might overlook a person's needs for the sake of task completion. While an emotionally-guided leader could focus too much on accommodating everyone that tasks start to slip through the cracks. That’s why truly effective, high performing teams require a balanced approach to leadership.
“True happiness is…to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence on the future.”
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca
The average American spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. Cultivating happiness in the workplace is that much more important, given we spend so many waking hours there.
But it is not always easy to do. Many challenges can arise for employees, especially in high-stress environments. Time can go by, with no reprieve, feeling as though the days blend into weeks, and weeks into months. Dwelling on past mistakes takes us out of the present, as does worries about our future at the company. Meditation is a tool we use to learn how to be more mindful and present, focusing on the here and now, which leads to more happiness.
Americans spend more time at work than many industrialized nations (including Japan), which means that our coworkers outrank our partners and families for hours spent together. Unless you’re a cyborg, that will inevitably mean that frustrations will arise. How can we cultivate happiness—especially when work gets stressful? Here are some quick tips to help tilt the needle in the right direction.
Have you ever caught yourself wanting to say something, but weren’t sure if it was the right time or place to say it? As a leader, you need to be extra mindful in your communication because it sets the tone and can affect the team’s success. There are 3 questions you can ask yourself to help determine if you should say what's on your mind:
Is it based on fact or feeling?
Will this make the situation better or worse?
Am I showing compassion?
Companies and their teams face growing pressures every day to “think outside the box”. Often this involves trying to “do more with less”, whether it’s less resources, less direction, or less data. It could also mean tending to an increasing number of stakeholders, more competition, or entering uncharted territory. Simple mindfulness exercises can have a profound effect on your team’s ability to grow with these evolving challenges.
Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment. When a work environment is chaotic or unenjoyable, our mind tends to wander. Whether you watch the clock or just daydream throughout the day, being present at work is possible, and we’re here to help you do it.
The top three hacks to building a more mindful workplace are:
Self Reflect for Deep Focus
Did you know that practicing mindfulness can actually increase your attention span? With increased self-awareness, you can be more intentional with your focus and mental clarity. The best part is you can practice mindfulness while you’re at work.
Pick a time of day (like after lunch) and take time to listen to how you’re feeling. Ask yourself:
How is my mind feeling?
How is my body feeling?
Do I feel stressed, busy, or tired?
By checking in with yourself, you are becoming self aware. When you do this regularly, your brain will begin to rewire itself to make stress and fatigue less painful. Once you acknowledge these feelings, you are able to work with more honesty and clarity.
Embrace Lunchtime Social Hour
For most of us, the office is a place of teamwork and collaboration. When you get along with your colleagues, your in-office experience improves alongside your work quality. Stress can hamper the ability to enjoy the company of others and communication, but being mindfully present with others can combat this. Spending time with others in the present moment has been proven time and time again to increase levels of serotonin -- one of the brain’s strongest feel-good and calming chemicals.
Lunch is a perfect time to let go of your focus on work and direct it to the people around you. Try having lunch with someone you like rather than eating alone. Make a conscious effort to really focus on someone’s lunch-time story, and engage in the conversation. When you get back to work, you’ll probably find it easier to focus since your brain will be in a more rejuvenated, relaxed state.
Mindfulness Loves Company
When you’re at lunch spending time with a friend, it’s more likely that they’ll notice the attention you’re paying to them. Not only does this make them feel good, but they’re more likely to open up to you and be kinder. This feeling is contagious because just as you returned to your desk feeling better, so do they. Both of you end up having more pleasant interactions with people. Over time, a friendlier work environment is created. It all starts with the simple act of paying mindful attention to others.
Building a mindful workplace doesn’t have to start from the top down. It can happen from the bottom up. You can do a lot to help yourself and others experience a calmer, more present work environment.
We are connected to our jobs more than ever before. Technology and smartphones have made us reachable 24/7. While this may be convenient for business, it’s important that our minds have a chance to relax and recharge. Here are some strategies people are using:
Protect Your Personal Time
How do you keep “work thoughts” from invading your personal time?
Victoria, Fashion Stylist: Meditation has been the biggest help when it comes to finding peace of mind. It taught me how to not fight the thoughts that are coming into my mind, but rather focus on breathing and let them go.
Judith, Program Coordinator: This is difficult at times, especially when there’s an intense period at work or when something gets under my skin. I find that I must be vigilant in observing my mind. When work thoughts occur during personal time, I have to make a conscious effort to create a boundary and refrain from engaging with the thinking. I compartmentalize the whole “folder” called work and I put it away.
Adam, Partner at Engage Media Group: It’s honestly the toughest thing to do, especially for those of us who don't work normal 9 to 5 jobs. You are responsible for so much that it’s almost always on my mind. Especially in today’s world where we are so connected with phones that a simple email or ad on Instagram can spark your mind to think work thoughts.
Korpo, Writer & Brand Strategist: “Work thoughts” typically arise after work hours when you have not prioritized and are unaware of what items you have left pending. At the end of each workday, I dedicate thirty minutes to weighing in on my priorities. Knowing exactly where I am on matters of importance allows me to set a plan of execution of the following day. This alleviates me of any anxiety that could arise over items I was unable to complete that day.
Keep Your Mind Off Work
What do you do when you find your mind wandering back to work? How do you silence these thoughts? Or do you give them attention?
Judith, Program Coordinator: First, I have be aware enough to catch it. Then, strong enough to be willing to reject it. Once that decision is made and the boundary is set, it takes some affirmative thought to put it away. Sometimes, I even have to breathe through the more pervasive “breakouts”. It’s not so much that I silence these thoughts per se, it’s that I refuse to put my attention on them and then they recede. Sometimes, if they are relentless, I do give them attention. At times, I have been able to assess my work issues with the most clarity during my personal time.
Adam, Partner at Engage Media Group: Most times it’s tossing the phone to the side and not picking it up. Another way is to spend time with some friends. Being social helps keep your mind off work since you are vibing and enjoying the moment.
Korpo, Writer & Brand Strategist: In basketball, the 5-second rule helps to promote a continuous play. How can this help stop your mind from wandering back to work? Easy, as soon as I find my mind being sucked back into work mode, I ask myself will this matter cause you to lose your job? Now is time to pass, dribble, or shoot. If I cannot make the call within 5 seconds, it’s a penalty; I must stop everything I am doing and attend to whatever matter has come to mind.
Christian, Direct-Response Copywriter: I just take a deep breath and try to stay focused in the moment. I don't give the thoughts much attention, especially if I can't do anything about them at that time.
Unwind To Switch Gears
Is there a specific activity, routine, habit, or ritual you do after work to switch gears into leisure mode?
Victoria, Fashion Stylist: Working out tremendously helps with switching gears! I also recommend working on a passion project that brings you joy.
Judith, Program Coordinator: When I am super stressed at work, a hot bath will help me to transition into my down time. It became a ritual of releasing any work-related stress.
Korpo, Writer & Brand Strategist: Classical conditioning is a learning process that occurs when two stimuli are paired habitually. While some habits are debilitating, others can be lifesaving. I have a set playlist that I listen to everyday for an hour before the end of my work day. My mind has been conditioned to leave work at the end of my playlist. Since adopting this habit, I now leave work more pumped and eager to head home than ever before.
Christian, Direct-Response Copywriter: After work I get changed into comfortable clothing, help out with dinner, and eat some food. I'd then either read my Kindle, watch YouTube or watch Dragon's Den. This happens naturally as I’m often exhausted and ready to relax.
Have you ever experienced a dream-like state where high quality work flows effortlessly and without hesitation? The kind you’d describe with words like flow state or deep work. More specifically, it’s when your mind balances relaxation with concentration. Here are 3 practices top performing teams use to “get in the zone”:
Find A Shared Purpose
Every task becomes significantly easier - and a lot more fun - when it has a meaningful purpose. Defining the team’s purpose allows team members to be in sync and see how they can best contribute for success. One way you can define this purpose is to understand how the task serves any bigger picture goals. This allows you to keep your team grounded and focused if there’s ever any debate about how to move forward in the project.
Tip: Try to find a strong visual or statement that encapsulates the team’s mission.
Simplify The Process
As human beings we have a habit of over complicating things. Our awesome, high-powered brains are so analytical that they sometimes experience analysis paralysis. This is when your purpose statement comes in handy. Having a clear intention allows you to decide which tasks will move you closer to the bigger picture goal and which ones will not. This will provide you context to assess each problem, so you can deal with it appropriately.
Remove Physical Distractions
There are a proven ways to improve people’s focus at work. The first is to remove any physical distractions. When it’s time to sit down and work, close social media, turn off phone notifications, close your email, and only keep tabs open related to the task at hand. Top performing teams do this because they know It takes an entire 20 minutes to completely refocus after a distraction.
Getting in the zone is no myth exclusive to athletes and superheros. It’s a wonderful, empowering state that anyone has access to. If you’re looking to take your team’s focus to the next level, try applying these 3 strategies.
Emotional intelligence is one of the fastest growing job skills, according to the World Economic Forum. This skill has two sides. On one hand, it’s the the capacity to notice, control, and express your own emotions. On the other, it’s the ability to understand and respond appropriately to the emotions of others. The interesting thing is you can actually improve your emotional awareness by managing others.
Understanding Other Perspectives
When you’re managing a team of people, it’s important to understand and explore the perspectives that others bring to the table, even when you don’t agree. A lot of judgement comes from a place of misunderstanding, so instead of rejecting another person’s viewpoint, try putting yourself in their shoes. By challenging yourself to understand someone else's perspective, you are opening your mind to possibilities you may not have previously seen. It can also help you understand where your own beliefs and thoughts emerge from, which is key to self-awareness.
Expressing Genuine Interest
Expressing genuine interest in the lives of your team members has many benefits. You can ask how their weekend was, get to know their family life, or ask how their kids are. You could even get their thoughts on a certain idea or news story. By making a conscious effort to understand what someone else believes, thinks, or feels, you are developing your own capacity to understand emotion.
Part of leading others involves dealing with difficult times. These challenging times are inevitable - they are a part of life. Having to deal with these situations helps you become more emotionally aware. It challenges you to put your ego aside and have the tough conversation that needs to be had. Think about a time when you swept something under the rug instead of confronting the issue. As you become more emotionally aware, you begin to realize the difficult conversation often alleviates a lot of tension and misunderstanding. This in turn helps you to become even more emotionally aware.
Emotional awareness isn’t necessarily a skill people are born with, however, it’s a skill you can learn. A regular mindfulness practice will help you become aware of your emotions and connect with your team.
Using your skills and experience to help guide a group towards a common goal is what every mindful boss wants. Rallying meetings, organizing task lists, and keeping your team on track are all parts of being a great leader.
Did you know that making your team feel appreciated is just as important?
When working on a project, everyone on the team brings their own unique skill set to the table. Here are 3 tiny, yet fun gestures you can do to make each team member feel appreciated:
Grab Some Coffee
Ah, the nectar of the gods. A coffee machine or shop can be found at almost every workplace, and we all know how good that first sip feels. What’s even better than getting a coffee? When someone else grabs one for you. If you’re heading down to get a cup for yourself, try thinking about someone who might be tired, has been working really hard, or is a well-known coffee fanatic. Getting a team member a coffee can really make their day, and is a humble act that makes them feel cared for.
Talk About More Than Just Work
When it’s lunchtime, break time or there’s some down time, try striking up a conversation with someone you work with. If you’ve been with that team for a while, chances are you know the interests of a few people. If not, taking the time chat about non-work related interests can really humanize the work environment. Maybe they have an Avengers frame at their desk, or a picture of their fluffy dog. Maybe there is a great podcast that just came out, or a recent news story you could ask their opinion on. Whatever it may be, a quick chat between work periods helps people feel appreciated and interesting.
Send Them A Birthday Card
So many people underplay their birthdays. They come to work, don’t say a thing, and work just as if it were any other day. Giving someone a card on their birthday is a small gesture that really means a lot. If you’re better at writing your thoughts than saying them aloud, a card is also a great chance to write down a note of appreciation. A lot of workplaces keep birthdays on file, so you can always check there for the right date.
A team that feels appreciated does good work and is so much happier while doing so. Even the smallest gesture can have a huge impact on workplace morale and productivity - plus you’ll feel great too.
Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash
Imagine it’s Monday morning. The weekend was full of friends, fun, and excitement that has left you feeling healthy and refreshed. Wouldn’t you like to carry this energy with you into the work week?
On a personal level, there are many benefits of bringing your full self to work. Finding balance between your home and work-life personas and integrating both sides can boost satisfaction all around - for you, your family and your coworkers.
Here are some benefits when you do this in a balanced way:
Deeper Bonds and Connections: As you open up to others, they will do the same to you. It’s these interactions that help you connect with people on a personal level - not just a professional level.
New Perspectives: By embracing your full self, you are free to share your perspective without fear of judgment. At the same time, you will discover new perspectives as you listen to your peers.
Meaningful Appreciation: When you really know someone, you appreciate them for more than just their work output. This is reciprocal - it goes for you too. People will begin to fully appreciate your unique traits, as you appreciate their special traits.
The idea of bringing your full self to work may be intimidating at first – but remember it’s healthy to do so. As you open to others, you may be surprised by the connections you form. Give yourself the freedom to open up. You’ll discover a deeper passion and more energy to drive you through the work week.
Here are a few ways to bring your full self to work while keeping it professional:
Spark up a conversation with a coworker about their weekend. Ask what was most fulfilling and share your experience.
Decorate your workspace with photos and objects unique to you. You’re a unique person - bring that out.
Be vulnerable with a colleague and share something personal. It’s amazing how people respond when we’re being authentic.
Bringing your full self to work means embracing all the characteristics that make you who you are. Your strengths, weaknesses, family, partner, interests, and hobbies. All of these are a part of who you are. So why leave them at the office door? Being you improves your personal peace of mind, while inspiring others to do the same.
How does your company empower a more productive and happier workplace? Many thriving companies are using meditation to empower a community of happy and healthy employees.
Research suggests that meditation has many in-office health benefits - both mental and physical. Meditation has the power to reduce blood pressure, while easing the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It reduces stress, improves listening skills, decision-making skills, and even boosts employee engagement.
Companies Embracing Meditation
Here are 6 NYC companies that are using meditation for a more productive and happier workplace:
When it comes to meditation, employees at Nike are encouraged to “just do it”. The company is very familiar with the fast pace of modern life. To help employees stay clear, focused, and calm in the workplace, in-office meditation and yoga classes are provided for free. In Nike’s New York office, you will find rooms dedicated to napping, praying, and of course, meditating.
Google is known for its social conscious efforts and pioneering the in-office meditation movement. The company has offered meditation courses to its teams since early 2007. These “Search Inside Yourself” sessions still continue to evolve over time. Today, Google offers seven different types of meditation classes to choose from. This includes attention training, self-knowledge and self-mastery, and building mindful mental habits.
CBRE believes that wellness in the workplace is more than a trend, it’s an evolution. All of their offices are being redesigned to be more natural and liveable. The layout includes stretching and relaxation areas, fresh vegetable juice stations, and access to personalized wellness coaching. According to their 2016 report, Wellness In the Workplace, “the idea is to give people an environment where they want to be every day, can focus and where they can be productive.”
Sony first implemented it’s wellness program in 1992. Since then, the program has continued to help employees as well as their domestic partners live healthier, more active lives. By offering free health assessments, Sony is able to provide personalized help in and out of office. At their New York facility, you’ll find an onsite fitness center, a health-focused cafeteria, and weekly farmers market.
The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York has the firm belief that healing patients quickly and thoroughly is the most productive thing they can do. With that in mind, the hospital has integrated meditation and mindfulness in patient healing programs that staff can join too. When people can be aware of their pain with a certain amount of detachment, it removes fear. This allows faster healing and more personal power.
The work environment at Facebook is designed to encourage calmness and creativity. Through weekly in-house meditation sessions and “No Meeting Wednesdays”, the company aims to boost employee morale. Facebook recognizes that happier employees are healthier, more collaborative, and produce better ideas.
Many of the world’s top companies are using to meditation to inspire a happy and healthy workplace. Wishing yours would do the same? Bring the idea to your employer - a healthy company starts with healthy employees.
Why do people become stressed? For so many, feeling “stressed out” is a sign of caring, working hard, and being a good employee.
But did you know that employee stress is one of the single greatest sources of lost revenue for businesses?
In David Gelles’ book, Mindful Work: How Meditation is Changing Business from the Inside Out, he describes how highly stressed workers are less productive and incur more health care costs than their less-stressed colleagues. According to the World Health Organization, stress costs American businesses as much as $300 billion per year.
What could your company do with all that extra money?
More importantly, how productive would your employees be without all that stress?
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years by millions of people looking to relax, find balance, and feel calm. Stress has mental and physical manifestations -- it can lead to depression and anxiety that affects both the mind and body. Because meditation strengthens the connection between the head and the heart, the physical and the mental, it is a simple, accessible way to reduce stress.
Journey helps people focus their attention and clear their minds. Just a few minutes a day can make a big difference for body, mind, and business.
FACT: Meditation improves relationships because it gives people a better ability to understand themselves and others.
We read people’s emotions everyday, often incorrectly: how many times have you mistaken a frown for a sign of disapproval rather than an indication of stress? All too often people project their own fears and insecurities onto others, and in the workplace, that can lead to strained relationships and an imbalanced culture. And nobody wants that -- not employees, not employers.
Seeing others clearly is a key component in positive relationships. A study at Emory University found that meditation makes subjects more equipped to read the emotions on other people’s faces (a handy little trick when navigating the very personal world of business). Furthermore, a study in the Journal of Psychological Science suggested that mindfulness helps us see ourselves more objectively, too.
Yeah, meditation is powerful.
And Journey Meditation is uniquely designed to help every individual see themselves more clearly so they can see the world as it truly is: awesome.
The benefits of meditation are incredible when it comes to physical, mental, and emotional health.
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, the top two chronic health conditions driving health-related costs for employers are depression and obesity. Add to that their finding that 60% of employers who offer workplace wellness said the programs reduced their corporate health care costs and the case for meditation in the office becomes even stronger.
Learn about five ways meditation can help your employees and boost your bottom line right now.
More clarity and focus.
In a study led by Harvard researchers, MRI scans showed that meditation decreased gray matter density in the amygdala, the part of the brain that deals with stress and anxiety, and participants reported significant reductions in stress. Another study from University of California Santa Barbara found that undergraduates who took a two-week meditation class revealed marked reductions in mind-wandering (ya know, where your head goes when the clock strikes 4:00 pm). Less stress equals more clarity, it’s as simple as that.
Increased employee loyalty.
Because meditation helps employees feel less stressed, it reduces working hours lost to anxiety, indecision, and self-doubt. Because of this, employees are likely to feel happier and more satisfied with their jobs and lives. If an employer is the one to put this positive cycle into place it won’t go unnoticed. Employees reinvest when they’ve been invested in, and the best way to show your support for your employees’ lives is by genuinely committing to their overall well-being.
Leave it to Harvard to confirm that people who are stressed out have a harder time organizing their thoughts. In today’s hyper-collaborative professional world, poor communication can be more than an annoyance -- it can be a deal-breaker. Meditation helps employees sort through their heads to identify important ideas from nagging worries. It’s not just about ignoring certain thoughts, it’s about having the tools necessary to acknowledge them and quietly, purposefully move on.
Decreased absenteeism due to illness.
Research from the University of Paris Descartes states that the benefits of physical activity and exercise are enhanced with a meditation practice. There is a direct correlation between what’s happening in the mind and what’s going on in the body, and the sooner people can see and foster that connection, the happier and healthier (and more productive) they’ll be. What does this mean for you as an employer? Less money lost to sick days and spent on health care.
People who meditate are more open to handling difficult situations, whether that’s a hectic home life, a day of back-to-back meetings, or a brainstorming session to develop the next big thing. Productivity takes a hit when employees are stuck worrying. Stress creates patterns that lead to isolation and inefficiency, but meditation can help break through all of that. A quick, simple meditation helps employees find calm and balance even in the most chaotic circumstances.
Think about it: What can a little meditation do for your team, your company, and your annual goals?
Consider how much your company spends on health care and insurance every year. What if you could minimize those costs while deepening your commitment to every member of your team?
The benefits of meditation are multilayered, ranging from increased focus and elevated levels of productivity to positive emotions and a greater sense of well-being.
And they extend to nutrition. A literature review from UCLA found that people who meditate are more apt to make healthier, life-supporting decisions surrounding nutrition and eating. What that means for your employees is that meditation makes healthy living easier. What that means for your bottom line is that meditation helps to minimize health care and insurance costs. A win-win if we’ve ever seen one.
Maybe you already give your employees a gym membership or free training sessions, but how good are those physical interventions if the mind still needs adjustment? Research from the University of Paris Descartes states that the benefits of physical activity and exercise are enhanced with a meditation practice. There is a direct correlation between what’s happening in the mind and what’s going on in the body, and the sooner people can see and foster that connection, the happier and healthier (and more productive) they’ll be.
Research also shows that meditation has a positive effect on our daily health behaviors. A study from UCLA shows that individuals who meditate sleep better at night. And what does longer, stronger sleep lead to? A happier, healthier person, someone excited by and committed to making the most of their everyday. (Don’t believe us? See what HuffPo wonder woman Arianna Huffington had to say about sleep in her latest book, The Sleep Revolution.)
This insight and research helps us understand the physiological benefits of meditation, both during and after. Cultivating good employee health starts by creating a trusted space for reflection and the calming aspects of mindfulness. Meditation is the path to guide you and your employees there.